Specialist advice helps farmer tackle erosion disaster

When floodwaters in the Condamine catchment broke a creek bank in early 2011, one Darling Downs farmer lost an estimated 34,000 tonnes of soil as it washed away from his 35 hectare cropping paddock. With water 1 metre deep in some areas, up to 75 centimetres of soil was lost in the worst affected areas.

It is estimated that 34 000 tonnes of soil was washed away from this 35 hectare cropping paddock when floodwaters broke through a creek bank in early 2011

Insufficient groundcover in the effected paddock was a significant contributing factor to the erosion event and while the extent of the erosion was severe, it could have been worse if it had not been for sorghum stubble in a nearby paddock, which protected the farmer’s land from the full force of the water.

To assist the farmer to improve ground cover and soil management, to mitigate future erosion events, Condamine Alliance engaged farming system specialist, Precision Agriculture, to help the farmer tackle the impacts of the erosion. Precision Agriculture used global positioning system survey data to calculate the soil loss and identify the worst affected areas.

It was recommended that the farmer stop cultivation in the impacted paddock and plant only deep-rooted, high-cover crops such as sorghum, corn and wheat to reduce the impacts of water logging and prevent further erosion and where soil could not be adequately recovered, manures and composts could be used to help recover the soil structure and increase soil carbon.

The specialist advice was crucial in helping the farmer recover from the disaster and put in place measures to prevent it happening again.

Assistance for the impacted farmer forms part of project focused on addressing strategic management practices on priority cropping and grazing lands in the Condamine Catchment. Project achievements to date have been significant and include:

  • 40 grazing and 30 cropping farmers across 7830 hectares of cropping land with improved practices for management of ground cover and soil carbon – supported by on-farm/site assessments and advice by technical and farming system specialists
  • An additional 100 farmers prepared for practice change through improved knowledge and skills for managing ground cover and soil carbon
  • 120 maps cropping and grazing farmers provided with maps generated from post-flood event satellite imagery to support land management planning
  • Delivery partnerships developed with 8 specialist agricultural and agri-business service providers to deliver on-ground and skills and knowledge outcomes

Through the implementation of this project, the impacted Darling Downs farmer and other land managers across the catchment now have the tools and knowledge to prevent major erosion episodes on their properties and the ability to adapt their practices to address sustainability and productivity concerns in the face of changing climatic conditions.

Funding

$450,000 – Q2 Coasts and Country with additional funds leveraged:

  • $6,700 – Precision Agriculture technical advice and support
  • $202,703– landholder contributions (implementation and practice change)